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Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy

  • Definition

    Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy is bleeding coming through the vagina during pregnancy, for any reason.

    Alternative Names

    Pregnancy - vaginal bleeding; Maternal blood loss


    Up to 10% of women have vaginal bleeding at some time during their pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months (first trimester). Bleeding is even more common with twins.

    To help prevent a miscarriage or other problems during pregnancy:

    • Avoid smoking and using drugs of any kind, including alcohol.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet.
    • Get regular medical checkups.
    • Take prenatal vitamins (or vitamins high in folic acid) before and after getting pregnant.

    Common Causes

    During the first 3 months, vaginal bleeding may be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. See the doctor right away. During months 4 - 9 bleeding may be a sign of:

    • Abruptio placentae
    • Miscarriage
    • Placenta previa
    • Vasa previa

    Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy:

    • Early labor (bloody show)
    • Ectopic pregnancy
    • Infection of the cervix
    • Trauma to the cervix from intercourse (small amount of bleeding)

    Other diseases and medications can cause bleeding during pregnancy. The causes may differ depending on your age.

    Characteristics of the bleeding can indicate its causes. These include:

    • Length of bleeding
    • Quality (light or heavy bleeding, with or without pain)
    • What makes the bleeding better
    • What makes the bleeding worse